by Robin Low
Many people have this mental image that they need to have their basic needs fulfilled before they can attempt to do what they like. This leads to many people just staying mediocre, doing work just to get by. Many millennials want to have a purpose in life, they want to follow their dream, but the current environment they face just makes them carry a sigh of regret.
I see even successful people living with depression. Beautiful young ladies with prestigious college degrees are getting depressed because they do not think they are successful enough. Even teenagers suffer from depression and sometimes are suicidal – not because they are stressed – but simply because they lack a purpose in life as they are told by their parents, peers and others that they need to be good at their studies before they can attempt the things that they are passionate about.
In my experience interacting with artists, entrepreneurs and inventors, many of them do not have a lot of their basics needs met when they set out to achieve what they have achieved. However, most people will remain mediocre throughout their lives, and they will never leave the safety and security of the crowd to realize that they are left there to fight with the 99%.
I believe that many people who have found purpose in their lives and get to self-actualization end up being happy people. They are motivated to do things which they find their purpose and try out things which will propel them forward. Sometimes, they fail when they try out new things, but it does not stop them from trying.
Failure is something that should not be feared. Failure brings humility. It develops your character. It helps you laugh at your mistakes and not take things so seriously. If you embrace the possibility of failure, you open yourself up to enormous success you’ve never seen before.
“If I fail more than you, I win.” – Seth Godin
Failure is a very important topic, and most people have an irrational fear of even the word failure. Sadly, with the push of entrepreneurship from many governments and universities, the word failure and the term also get loosely used and people also try to glorify failure.
It is important to learn from the failure when encountered, and sometimes through repetition, you get to master your task. In my experience with video games, I realize that the ones who put in many hours in playing, do end up being very good players as they practice a lot in “dying” and the more they play, the less they die.
Maslow’s pyramid implies that human motivation always builds upon a balanced foundation of needs, and that we’re each distinguished by how high we’ve managed to build our pyramid of demands. As far as I know, many of the self-actualized people did not get there by building the foundations of their psychological and basic needs, they were simply driven enough to succeed.
There are many artists, scientists and writers who are very focused and good at their work. They find purpose in their work and I would say that these “creatives” are at the pinnacle of the pyramid and they are self-actualized by looking at the quality of their work. Through various interactions of these people, I realized that many of them were compulsively driven to create something that will change the world in their field of work, and they have been that way before they were successful.
They seemed to be motivated to be self-actualized. Armed with their passion and drive; they get to where they are, even before building their basic needs. However, without security and addressing all the physiological needs, a lot of these driven people are often more fragile and unstable. Many of them think differently and do not conform, which also adds to more external pressure if they were to care about what others think of them.
This is often exacerbated by the kind of work that they do. Channeling creativity requires empathy and digging deep into emotions. When you constantly reach in within you, you learn more about yourself, but you also become more vulnerable as you expose more of your inner thoughts. This vulnerability makes it hard to follow the Maslow’s pyramid as the needs are always challenged when you create from your emotions. This is not a bad thing as it sometimes works for the creatives, as their experiences, instability and sometimes suffering can give great inspiration to their work.
There are many unhappy people and they mostly seek titles and money. They can never be happy or satisfied and therefore in their own opinions, they are not successful as they can never have enough. For others who truly want to learn and excel, they seek experience and transformation.
“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue.” – Victor Frankl
Sadly, for many people who want to build stability, things are not so easy as well. Getting a secured job, living the American Dream is a thing of the past. Even when you want to play it safe by following the laws of society – studying hard and finding a good job – nothing is even certain as technology progress, many industries change and stable jobs get disrupted.
With automation and the advancement of technology, you can even fail when you follow social norms. I would like to ask you a question; why are you not using your creativity to solve the pressing problems you see? Perhaps, following your passion is something that is not easy, but if you are going to fail, why not shoot for the stars?